The Dodgers still need a solid backup second baseman and third baseman. An old friend might do the trick.
For all the talk about the Dodgers’ depth, there are still some question marks on the infield.
The Dodgers are relying on a rookie (albeit a phenomenal one) to take over shortstop, a platoon at second and a talented third baseman that isn’t exactly durable. Their backup infielders consist of whichever second baseman isn’t starting at that time and Alex Guerrero, who hasn’t exactly shown the ability to play defense at any position.
Most fans have been clamoring for the Dodgers to re-sign Howie Kendrick and while I don’t disagree, that looks unlikely at this point. His market has been surprisingly quiet, but it appears the front office values the draft pick attached too much to offer him a contract.
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There’s another free agent that played for the Dodgers last year that is available, can play second and third (and even played at short early on in his career) and won’t cost the Dodgers a draft pick: Juan Uribe.
The Dodgers traded Uribe in May along with Chris Withrow to Atlanta for Alberto Callaspo, Ian Thomas, Juan Jaime and Eric Stults. This is probably the only move that this front office has made that I can’t even partially explain. The thinking at the time was that Callaspo was more versatile that Uribe, who only played third base for the Dodgers in 2014 and 2015. Uribe primarily played at third during his short time with the Braves before being traded again to the Mets, but both of those teams also played him a bit at second. Meanwhile, Callaspo only played at third for the Dodgers before he was released.
Uribe was hated at the beginning of his Dodger career. The former Giant was terrible during his first two years in blue, but triple-slashed .278/.331/.438 with 12 home runs in 2013 and won fans over. He re-signed and hit .311 in 2014, but his numbers declined a bit early on in 2015. He was still a fan favorite due to his personality and incredible clubhouse presence, especially with Yasiel Puig and Hyun-jin Ryu.
There’s not exactly room for him, but the Dodgers absolutely should try to bring him back to LA. It’s hard to quantify how much a player can bring to the clubhouse, but I think there would be a lot of excitement from players and fans if Uribe was back. You CAN quantify what he can bring on the field, and he could bring exactly what the Dodgers need.
The Dodgers need more depth in the infield at the major league level. Assuming Chase Utley starts a majority of games at second (against RHP) that leaves Enrique Hernandez as the only true backup infielder. Justin Turner will need days off even if he’s healthy, but he underwent arthroscopic surgery in October and the Dodgers don’t appear to want to rush him back. Guerrero can, technically, play third base. But assuming he doesn’t go on another stretch where all he does is hit dingers, it would probably be best for the Dodgers if he wasn’t counted on at all (or even on the roster). Corey Seager will also probably need days off. Uribe hasn’t played shortstop since 2012, when he played SS for one game for the Dodgers, but they could theoretically put Hernandez or Utley at short and Uribe at second if need be.
The market for Uribe hasn’t really been established yet, but I think I speak for most Dodger fans when I say that seeing Uribe back in Dodger blue would be great in 2016. They’d need to clear space for him on the roster, but a one or two-year deal for Uribe would probably better than a more expensive deal for Kendrick or having Guerrero on the roster. Obviously, free agency is more complicated that pointing at a player and calling dibs, but making a run at Uribe would be a wise move.